At 10 months old, Avery was holding board books on her own. At age 2, she was memorizing stories her parents read and reciting them back. In kindergarten, at her parent’s request, her teacher tested her reading ability. It surpassed the 3rd grade level.
Now, at nearly 7 and in first grade at Cottonwood Elementary in the Vail Unified School District, Avery is an avid consumer of books. At last count, the completed shelf in her online Pima County Public Library account featured more than 2,500 titles.
“I love reading. I love everything about it,” says Avery. Her eyes light up, her arms wave, and her voice takes on a certain lilt as if she’s talking about something magical.
Avery unzips a rolling suitcase, her personal Bookmobile, to reveal the contents inside.
“Her backpack couldn’t hold all we were checking out, so we got this suitcase,” says Avery’s mother, Brie, an aspiring children’s book author.
The suitcase is chock full of books. Hardcovers and paperbacks spill out revealing everything from Amazing Animals – Meerkats to Peppermint Patty Goes to Camp.
“We come at least once a week. Honestly, I can’t picture our life without the Library. Financially, it would be impossible to keep up with her reading habit. Can you imagine stifling that? With the Library, she’ll never run out of reading material.”
But it’s not just the sheer number of books available to them that Brie loves. “It’s a great place for the phases kids so often go through. Thor, Cars, Rapunzel, Peanuts, Legos - you name it, the Library has it.”
From the beginning, books have played a crucial role in Avery’s life. They’ve sparked her imagination and inspired in her a love of words that seems to know no bounds.
“I invented Supermeow. He’s a cat with superpowers like heat vision. He can also freeze stuff,” exclaims Avery. “I’m going to publish a book about him,” she continues. “It’s called Supermeow and the Unusual Letter.”
Avery, Brie adds, also writes about Benny, the family’s 13-year old Basset Hound and Beagle Mix, and his ongoing adventures with Sirius, the neighborhood cat. “That series is called The Big Bark.”
For Brie, a passionate reader and writer herself, there was never a question about embracing books at home. “It was the one thing I was most excited about when I was pregnant with Avery. I would dream about reading books to her.”
One thing is certain, the impact it’s had on Avery’s life is incalculable.
When Summer Reading rolls around, Avery tracks her daily reading using an old cellphone. She’s now using the Library’s catalog on her own, exploring topics and requesting books. Last year, she won her school’s kindergarten spelling bee.
But not before turning to the Library for some encouragement.
“She was nervous and said she didn’t want to compete,” Brie says. “So we checked out What to Do When You Worry Too Much and found some ideas about how to overcome anxiety.”
Avery excitedly adds, “We made a bottle cap necklace with lots of brave characters. Ariel, Merida, and Thor were on it… girl Thor, not the boy Thor.”
It should come as no surprise that when her school sponsored a Read-a-Thon, Avery won. In two short weeks, she logged 1,813 minutes of reading.
Brie laughs as she admits, “It was challenging to find friends and family to sponsor her. No one wanted to go bankrupt.”
When last year’s birthday came with a new bookshelf, one of the first things Avery did was organize it. “Nonfiction is on top. Storybooks go together. Holiday books have their own section.”
For now, it’s all about the Nevergirl series and lots of National Geographic Kids. Who knows what tomorrow’s interests will be, but the Library will always be here to keep Avery’s bookshelf fully stocked.